Pre-season training is well underway at Chelsea, however, with a number of stars left to return to Cohbam. The Blues’ internationals are all still to return, but the hard work is already underway under the watchful eye of Mauricio Pochettino and his squad, with just seven days to go before the tour of the United States begins.
The likes of Noni Madueke and Levi Colwill will not join the group until then, while others are set to join in the next seven days. However, Pochettino has already found plenty of information to take on board and has consistently spoken of making no excuses for his side in his short time at the club.
The former Spurs boss has been ambitious from the start with his training sessions and hopes to set a platform for the season.
He explained: ‘Right now we have to be competitive on the training pitch. That’s where things start. If we are not competitive there, we will not get where we need to go. I will not make excuses for the players by saying that we need time to rebuild and time to work.
“There are no excuses. We have to work hard to steer and drive [the players] forward in the way we want. The competition waits for no one and we have to be ready, that much is clear.”
Those standards will not have dropped despite a number of youngsters being involved so far, and whatever the circumstances, they will have the opportunity to impress Pochettino. Perhaps some will get the opportunity to earn a spot on the pre-season tour.
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Teddy Sharman-Lowe has been involved at Cobham, with the Blues short of goalkeepers to start the season following Edouard Mendy’s departure, and Kepa Arrizabalaga is yet to return from his break from representing Spain. The 20-year-old traveled to the U20 World Cup with England during the summer and spent time on loan at Havant & Waterlooville last term. He may be unlikely to break into the first team immediately, but he has had some valuable time to work with new goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez
Omari Hutchinson has not had to wait long to train again with senior players who were involved several times last season as he made his Premier League debut for the club. The winger may find an opportunity to attack with the absence of Noni Madueke and Mykhailo Mudryk.
For many, Cesare Casadei’s performances at the Under-20 World Cup will have already seen him break out, but the Blues have a plan for his development, it will be interesting to see his next steps after his loan move to Reading.
The Italian won both the Ballon d’Or and the Golden Boot representing his nation in June and will be keen to make a positive impression with teams as highly regarded as Juventus linked with a loan move for the midfielder .
Pochettino also has plenty of other under-20 World Cup players on his hands. Andrey Santos captained Brazil at the tournament and returns from his Vasco da Gama loan as Pochettino’s only central midfielder until Conor Gallagher and Enzo Fernandez return to the club’s service. Santos is spending his first extended spell in England and looks set to form part of Chelsea’s pre-season squad at the moment.
Carney Chukwuemeka and Bashir Humphreys also played in the tournament. The former was in Chelsea’s senior team last season, but the Blues could consider a loan move. The midfielder didn’t play as much as he would have liked last season but has the chance to make his case to Pochettino.
Humphreys returns to challenge for a place in Chelsea’s most established department in the center of defence, but can learn from Thiago Silva and Trevoh Chalobah at the moment. He shone on loan at Paderborn in the latter half of last season and another loan is perhaps most likely.
Alfie Gilchrist may face a similar predicament to Humphreys as he broke into Chelsea’s squad at the end of last term and was a candidate for Premier League 2 player of the season. A loan could be the logical next step after an impressive 2022/23.
Jimi Tauriainen is perhaps one of the surprising faces to feature in Pochettino’s sessions so far. The 9-year-old played mainly in midfield last term and struggled to break into the starting XI in Chelsea’s Premier League 2 side, but made three assists in six UEFA Youth League games.
The Blues have also seen the introduction of two elder statesmen full-backs in Malo Gusto and Ian Maatsen, who sit at 20 and 21 respectively. Gusto arrives for his first extended spell at the club after joining in January and looks set to challenge and support Reece James.
Maatsen returns from an impressive loan spell at Burnely with an uncertain future with the presence of Ben Chilwell, Marc Cucurella and Lewis Hall all at Cobham. What can be achieved in the next week could go a long way in determining who makes the tour and into Pochettino’s squad.
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